How many anime characters can be said to be more iconic than Char Aznable? I’m sure you could name a few, but there aren’t many. Char is the most recognizable character of one of anime’s biggest franchises, a franchise that made all of the shows we watch possible. Char spans generations, carrying with him a mix of lofty ideals and heinous crimes, wondrous battles and deep depressions. Char is one of the best written characters in anime, a stand-out amongst Gundam characters as well as amongst anime in general. Char Aznable, the Red Comet, is one of my favorite characters, and his legacy is one worth examining.
Last week I looked at My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, a series which strays a lot from yuri’s classic tropes. This week’s manga is the Kase-san series, beginning with Kase-san and Morning Glories, and unlike SabiRezu it thoroughly fits within yuri’s many established conventions. It’s set in a high school, focuses heavily on first love, and is ultimately a very flowery affair. Kase-san is a classic yuri series made today, carrying the genre’s lineage while still feeling up-to-date, avoiding the problematic tropes of the past. If I were to use one phrase to describe Kase-san it would be well-executed, because while it does little in the realm of innovation, it’s constantly firing on all cylinders.
Making lists and categorizing things is something I’ve always loved. Even as a kid, when all I had was a meager selection of GBA games, I constantly made lists ranking my favorite ones. I never cared that much about the numeric scores assigned to things: it was always about the fun of making the list itself. I read other peoples’ lists as well, but the joy of making my own was always the main appeal for me.
There’s no denying that Cute Girls Doing Cute Things is one of the most popular genres in anime. Shows focused on adorable groups of girls have a lot of appeal, and many beloved anime like K-On and New Game fit comfortably within this genre. Like many others I’m a fan of CGDCT shows, but there’s something that often goes unadressed when talking about them: the genre is almost entirely the creation of one magazine line, Manga Time Kirara.
This is a series focused on recommending yuri, so it might seem strange that I’m starting with a manga that barely fits the genre. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness — from here on referred to as SabiRezu — is an auto-biographical manga written by Nagata Kabi. It was originally posted on Pixiv, before being picked up for print after seeing extreme success online. It’s a very popular manga in Japan, where it received the honor as the third best manga of 2016 for women. And it just so happens to be one of the most important yuri manga of the decade.
Dragon Maid is a story about unorthodox families, but it goes much deeper than that. Unorthodox familes are a dime a dozen in anime, and while Dragon Maid does a good job at portraying them, I wouldn’t say it does a better job than, say, The Eccentric Family. What makes Dragon Maid stand out is how it focuses on the family’s effect on the main character. Dragon Maid is ultimately the tale of an introvert, someone who’s used to minimal interaction, and how her newfound family helps her to open up and become more comfortable around others.
This can be considered a replacement to my earlier post, Iyashikei: The Genre of Catharsis. That post is outdated and bad, so please ignore anything in it that contradicts with this post.
Describing iyashikei is hard. I’ve tried it before, and it didn’t turn out that well. However, after reading a fairly large number of takes on the subject, including academic papers focusing on the healing genre outside of 2D culture, I think I’ve been able to come to a semi-workable definition. This is going to take a bit of time and quite a few words, so strap in as a I explain my current understanding of iyashikei as a unique genre.